Temporary hirers ‘getting up to speed’ on Agency Workers Regulations

The temporary hiring market is on an education drive, designed to get its end users, workers and recruiters up to speed on the incoming 35-page Agency Workers Regulations.

Confirming that the learning process is underway, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said raising awareness of the rules was now just as critical as getting the government to smooth their introduction.

Reflecting on media reports about the AWR, due to take effect from October 1st, the REC also said that end-users were turning to those recruiters who were “ahead of the game” - for understanding their implications already.  

However the realities of working under the AWR framework will become more precise if guidance notes from the Department of Business are released in the spring, as the market hopes.

Although lawyers stress that the guidance will not change the words or meanings of the regulations, it should clarify the implications of when an agency worker is switched by the end user from one role to another.

This is important, as under the regulations temporary agency workers qualify for almost the same rights as employees once they have worked in the same post, at the same end-user, for 12 weeks.

The current education drive teaches that the clock counting the agency worker’s time on the job will effectively be put back to day one where the new role is “substantively different”.

Other grey areas of the AWR, potentially including the treatment of limited company owners, and ‘what if’ scenarios – currently on the minds of employers and agencies who are jointly responsible for awarding the rights, may also be in the final guidance.

Overall though, the REC believes that the rules “will not fundamentally impact on the vital flexibility that temporary, contract and interim work provides to employers” – despite expressing concerns in the past.

Related figures from the agency staffing group reportedly show that awareness of the EU-inspired framework is clearly increasing: 18 months ago, only a fifth of employers were generally aware, against about 80% at the end of 2010.

As well as being motivated to learn about the incoming rules because doing so can bring rewards, as the REC says, end-users must also wish to avoid the risks, including becoming the first UK employer to be taken to an AWR-related tribunal.

 

Further reading: Why limited contractors aren't outside the AWR

Monday 7th March 2011